Notes: McCann OK after scare
Catcher suffers bruised finger attempting to bunt
NEW YORK - As he staggered out of the batter's box into foul territory down the first-base line, Brian McCann's fear was equaled by each of his Braves teammates. The loss of the All-Star catcher's services would be detrimental.
But fortunately, it doesn't appear that McCann suffered anything more than a bruised left ring finger while attempting to lay down a sacrifice bunt in the ninth inning of Sunday's 9-6 win over the Mets at Shea Stadium.
X-rays didn't show any broken bones and the Braves' All-Star catcher hopes to be in the lineup for Monday night's game against the Marlins at Dolphin Stadium.
"Any time you mess with fingers and you're in this business, it's not a good thing," said McCann, who is hitting .339.
With runners on first and second and nobody out, McCann was called upon to bunt against Mets left-handed reliever Pedro Feliciano. The first pitch came sailing toward him and he still attempted to get the bunt down.
"If he wouldn't have moved in the box, it probably would have went behind him," said Chipper Jones, whose immediate thought was, "don't be broken."
After being examined by the team's medical personnel, McCann remained in the game. He eventually provided the sacrifice bunt and then came back out to catch the bottom of the ninth.
AJ improving: With a large payday awaiting him at the end of this season, Andruw Jones hasn't exactly gotten this season off to a torrid start. But then again, he didn't exactly sprint out of the gates, hitting just .239 in April during his MVP-caliber 2005 season.
Nor is he alone in the category of premier players, who have battled to keep their batting average above the Mendoza line this year. Entering Sunday, Jones' .200 batting average was slightly better than Boston's Manny Ramirez (.193) and just a tad lower than the great Albert Pujols (.203).
But as Jones' stance continues to widen at the plate, he's looking uncomfortable and struggling to come through in clutch situations. Although he enjoyed his first two-hit performance of the season on Saturday, he also struck out during a four-pitch, seventh-inning at-bat with the bases loaded.
"He's pulling off the ball pretty good," Braves hitting coach Terry Pendleton said. "We need to get the cage in and put some more work in."
Jones' decision not to take batting practice before Sunday's series finale against the Mets at Shea Stadium didn't seem to hurt him. He produced his second straight two-hit game and will enter Monday with a .222 batting average.
Chipper feeling good: Chipper Jones entered this season intent on playing at least 150 games, and so far, his troublesome feet and legs have cooperated. Last week, he used his speed to turn a single into a double and also dove to his right to begin a highlight play that concluded with a perfect throw to first base.
At one point during Thursday night's game, Cubs first-base coach Matt Sinatro turned to Braves manager Bobby Cox and said, "You've got a vacuum cleaner over there."
Jones spent the first seven years of his Major League career as a third baseman and then moved to left field for the next 2 1/2 seasons. Since returning to the hot corner midway through the '04 season, he's proven to be much better defensively than he was during his younger days.
"I don't think there's anybody better coming in on a ball, barehanding it and throwing somebody out," said Cox, who was a third baseman during his playing days.
There was a time when Cox thought Graig Nettles had the finest throwing arm among third baseman. Later he provided Vinny Castilla with that distinction. And now he puts Jones in that category.
"He's right on the money every time," Cox said. "They don't throw lasers like Sal Bando threw. They just get rid of it and it's accurate, which I like best."
Jones, who committed his fourth error of the season in the third inning on Sunday, saw feet and leg injuries prevent him from playing more than 110 games either of the past two seasons. He will celebrate his 35th birthday on Tuesday. Andruw Jones will turn 30 on Monday.
Cormier update: While making his first Minor League rehab start with Class A Rome on Sunday afternoon, Lance Cormier allowed one earned run and five hits in two innings. The right-hander, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right triceps muscle that he suffered on March 26, registered five strikeouts and didn't issue a walk.
Cormier will likely need to make two and possibly three more rehab starts before being activated from the disabled list.
Lost opportunities: Last year, the Braves ranked second in the NL with a .275 batting average with runners in scoring position. Entering Sunday, they ranked 11th in that category with a .221 average. In their first six losses of the season, they hit just .079 (3-for-38) with runners in scoring position.
Coming up: The Braves will begin a three-game series against the Marlins at Dolphin Stadium on Monday at 7:05 p.m. ET. Atlanta will send Kyle Davies (0-0, 4.50) to the mound to face Florida ace Dontrelle Willis (3-1, 5.25).
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.